I was stuck in neutral; directionless. I yearned to embark on a long journey of self-discovery that spanned the globe. So, I did. I hopped on a plane, leaving my obligations behind, and spent years traveling the world. I didn’t learn a single fucking thing about myself the whole time.
I always figured that if I traveled the world and saw things and met people and did stuff I would come back a man enriched by knowledge and experience; that I would be wiser and smarter; that my years of globetrotting would manifest as a series of life lessons that would propel me toward a brighter future. Not even fucking close. And I did a lot.
I worked for a spice farmer in India named Arnav. His vanilla beans were so good that I just knew that this was a guy who was definitely going to teach me a thing or two about myself. Things were going well until local gangs strong-armed Arnav into paying outlandish “protection fees.” As the fees rose every month, he tearfully fired his loyal farmhands. I heard his story and offered to work his farm free of charge until my time in India was done. The gang confiscated our spice shipments and his goats set on fire when he got tired of their racket and refused to pay up. I had to do something to protect Arnav and his family. Luckily, the whole time I was there Arnav had been teaching me a 3,000-year-old Indian martial art called Kalaripayattu. Arnov made me promise only to use it to find inner peace, a promise I broke when I used Kalaripayattu to defeat the gang. He never spoke to me again. The fuck, Arnav? I get you your farm back and what did I learn in return other than a stupid 3000-year-old Indian martial art? Fuck all, that’s what.
I spent some time on a Scandinavian fishing ship catching sturgeon with some of the rowdiest fellas I ever met. Hard drinkers, too. But more loyal than any Labrador and more friendly than, well, any Labrador. During the day, we’d sing songs as we reeled in our bounties. By night, we’d tell tales from our travels. It will be through these men – Sven, Anders, Thorin, and the rest — that I will learn valuable lessons about myself, I thought. And then they all died in a squall. Is “don’t befriend Scandinavian fishermen because they might die in a squall” the lesson I should’ve taken from that? Because it was, and I will never have a use for it.
In Bogotá, Colombia, I befriended a street kid named Nina. She had to pickpocket tourists to survive after her family was gunned down by corrupt cops. I took her under my wing. Together we honed her skills in thievery and used them to steal classified documents that exposed a vast network of corruption running throughout the nation’s political system. We were lauded as heroes. From me, Nina learned how to use her skills to find justice. From her, I didn’t learn a fucking thing, that selfish little shit. She could have at least taught me to steal someone’s watch while shaking their hand, but not even that.
After trotting the globe for five years, I made it back home exactly as I was when I left. If I really had to scrape together a lesson to be gleaned from all of this to salvage my disastrous journey, I guess it would be this: splurge for first-class seats on international flights, if you can afford it. The extra legroom alone makes it worthwhile.